Multicart

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In video game parlance, a multicart is a cartridge that contains more than one game. Typically, the separate games are available individually for purchase (such as Sega Smash Pack) or were previously available individually (such as Final Fantasy: Dawn of Souls). For this reason, collections, anthologies, and compilations are considered multicarts. The desirability of the multicart to consumers is that it provides better value, greater convenience, and (in the case of portable games), more portability than the separate games would provide. The advantage to developers is that it allows two or more smaller games to be sold together for the price of one larger game, and allows an avenue to repackage and sell older games one more time, often with little or no changes.

Multicarts are distinct from minigame series such as Mario Party, Game & Watch Gallery, or WarioWare. These games contain several, distinct games, but they are minigames specifically created for the overall game experience. In contrast to this, the NES multicart Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt contains two full-version games, each of which were available for purchase individually.

Although most commonly associated with NES and SNES, multicarts, both authorized and unauthorized, have appeared for many cartridge-based systems, among them the Atari 2600, Intellivision, Odyssey 2, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Game Boy. As storage capacity on cartridges continues to grow and become less expensive, the popularity of multicarts has seen a resurgence on the only remaining cartridge-based systems, those of Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance and DS. Since launch, these systems have seen an increase in the number of “2-in-1” and 3-in-1” games, with some re-releasing popular titles previously seen on the same platform such as Konami's Castlevania.

Pirate multicarts[edit]

"120 in 1" cartridge

Among pirate Famicom games, multicarts often advertise an inflated number of games on their labels (such as "76-in-1," "200-in-1," "1200-in-1," and even "9999999-in-1"), but in reality only have anywhere from five to one hundred truly unique games. The list is padded by different variations of these games, hacked to start at different levels or to start a player with different power-ups. The games are usually first-generation Famicom titles, several of which were never officially released in America, and in typical pirate fashion have either had their names deliberately misspelled, their copyright notices/logos removed, or both.

Other popular video game systems also have their own share of unique pirate multicarts. Unlike the Famicom, the Nintendo Game Boy multicarts have a variety of different, innovative multicart designs. Standard-sized Game Boy multicarts have either a game selection menu like the NES multicarts, or require quick toggling of the Game Boy power switch to select through games. Most of them incorporate an external soft reset button (not available on any original cart), so you can reset the game without powering off the system. To overcome the storage limitations of a standard-sized pirate cart, huge pirate carts were invented. These unusually large and thick carts, more than 2 times the height and depth of a standard Game Boy cartridge, were able to store many of the larger new games, such as Donkey Kong Land easily. One drawback of these carts is they lack any battery backup, so saving games on these carts is impossible. Most of these carts were produced in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

More recently there have been Game Boy Advance multicarts with several GBA games and several or even hundreds of NES roms. These carts are known to include some bootlegs, hacks or variations of games, advertising them as different games and giving them incorrect box arts on the main boxart.

Unlicensed multicarts[edit]

These multicarts were published with the consent of the owners of copyright in the games themselves, but without the console maker's consent:

Official multicarts[edit]

Atari 2600[edit]

  • 32 in 1: Only released in Europe (PAL systems) contains Atari's early hits such as Blackjack, Boxing and Combat [1]
  • 2005 Minigame Multicart: Published by AtariAge well after the end of the 2600s lifespan, this collection includes seven entries of the 2005 MiniGame Competition [2]

Due to the relative ease of duplicating Atari 2600 cartridges, a large number of pirate multicarts were developed for the system. Most of these were released outside the US and EU (most commonly Brazil).

Nintendo Entertainment System[edit]

Game Boy[edit]

Game Boy Advance[edit]

Nintendo DS[edit]

Sega Game Gear[edit]

Sega Master System[edit]

Sega-released Master System multicarts were labeled "The Combo Cartridge" on the box, as opposed to the "Mega Cartridge" and "Two-Mega Cartridge" labels placed on single-game cart boxes.

Sega Mega Drive/Genesis[edit]

Super Nintendo Entertainment System[edit]

Nintendo 64[edit]

References[edit]